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Bang Your Head

An overdue appreciation of Missoula's unsung metal scene

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RIDE THE LIGHTNING

Doug Koester walks through the door of the Independent office to drop off a copy of Prophecy's 1984 eponymous album. The raised letters of "Prophecy" loom over the bright, bleeding red background of the cover, which was, oddly enough, designed by local artist Monte Dolack. Now, Koester looks quite different from the photo of him displayed on the back of the record. Instead of a sleeveless T-shirt, cool gaze and long feathered hair, he's clean-cut, dressed in a nice suit and displays a warm smile. He's now a fundraiser and regional manager for the American Heart Association.

"Things change," he says. "Back then it was like, 'A real job? Are you kidding me?'"

Koester still plays music, though it's now for a country band called County Line, scheduled to open at the Wilma Theatre next month for national act Jake Owen. Koester says he's content with his current band—he switched from guitar to bass—and he no longer cares about making it big. But he does recall the Prophecy days with fondness.

"It was the edgy, it was the loud, it was the rebellious," he says. "It was the in-your-face. We used to say, 'Prophecy rocks your face off.' It was that kind of feeling."

As much as things have changed since Koester shredded the stage at the Tijuana Cantina, many things remain the same. Local metal bands, whether they're playing speed metal or sludgy doom chords, are still edgy, loud, rebellious and aimed at rocking your face off. And they're still on the fringe of the local music scene.

Koester knows it, and he's tickled to finally have the genre's local history, as well as the current stories, come to light. He just has one request when he drops off the old album: "When you play it, be sure you turn it up loud."

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